Sweet Chili Chicken and Quinoa Salad

Asian-style ingredients like sweet Thai chili sauce, sesame oil, cilantro and scallions add flavor and originality to this light and easy main-dish salad. Served at room temperature, the dish is a sweet and savory combination of boneless chicken, fresh pineapple and quinoa that’s easy to prepare and a great choice for a light weeknight meal.

Sweet Chili Chicken and Quinoa Salad

Sweet Chili Chicken and Quinoa Salad

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Pan-seared chicken tenders, fresh pineapple and quinoa combine with sweet Thai chili sauce, orange juice, scallions and cilantro to make this light and easy main dish salad.


  • 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 lbs chicken tenderloins (about 10 pieces)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1-1/4 cups fresh pineapple, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons sweet Thai chili sauce (or more to taste)
  • Cilantro leaves for garnish

For the quinoa:

  • 1-1/2 cups quinoa
  • 2-2/3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (or more to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 4 to 5 scallions, chopped

For the dressing:

  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sweet Thai chili sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, very finely chopped


  1. Using a fine-mesh strainer, rinse the quinoa thoroughly and place it in a saucepan. Add the chicken broth and bring the mixture to a boil.
  2. Reduce the heat and simmer the quinoa, stirring occasionally, until all the liquid has been absorbed, about 12 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the soy sauce and sesame oil and fluff with a fork.
  3. To make the dressing, whisk the orange juice, rice vinegar, sweet Thai chili sauce and garlic together in a small bowl. Add to the quinoa, combine thoroughly and set aside to cool.
  4. Trim any white tendons from the chicken tenderloins and season them on both sides with salt and pepper.
  5. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and sprinkle with crushed red pepper flakes if desired. Cook until lightly browned, 2 to 2-1/2 minutes per side.
  6. Place the tenderloins on a cutting board, let them rest for 5 minutes, then cut into bite-sized pieces. Transfer the chicken to a bowl, add the pineapple and sweet Thai chili sauce and combine thoroughly.
  7. To finish the salad, add the cilantro and scallions to the quinoa, combine well and divide the mixture between 4 serving plates. Top each with a portion of chicken and pineapple, garnish with cilantro leaves and serve immediately.